Kuwait’s Health Ministry is considering designating specific hours of the day that nationals and expats can seek medical assistance, in a proposal some have described as racist.
Under the plan, only Kuwaitis would be allowed to attend hospitals and clinics in the morning, while non-nationals would be treated only in the evening.
Staff also would be segregated according to their nationality, while emergencies would be excluded from the plan.
The move is seen as favourable to locals while reducing the level of care given to expats, who make up about two-thirds of Kuwait’s population but would have fewer hours they could seek medical attention.
Jahra Health Zone director Dr Abdelaziz Al-Farhoud told the Kuwait Times that the proposed segregation meant Kuwaitis were more likely to see a local doctor because they generally worked in the morning, while expat doctors filled the later shifts.
However, Human Path Organisation secretary Taher Al-Baghly told the newspaper the decision “discriminates in how service is presented based on nationality”.
“The health service will not be equal, because consultants work in the morning and this will lead to variations in service levels,” he said.
Psychological advisor Iman Al-Bedah said the proposal was “dangerous at all levels” and would discriminate against both patients and medical staff.
“The health sector is not qualified to face the burdens of the segregation policy, which will increase patient traffic in the evening and this will worsen the level of service,” she said.
“Such policy contradicts the standards and ethics of the medical profession. It also clashes with legal standards and international treaties related to human rights.”